Senior Hamas official Mahmoud Zahar said that former Palestinian Authority chairman Yasser Arafat provided weapons to Hamas after he realized the Camp David negotiations would collapse, according to a report by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).
Zahar told Hamas-owned Al-Aksa TV in an interview on Sunday that since the Palestinian Authority was established in 1994 and until 2000, “we were subject to repeated arrests.”
Then, Arafat “reached the conclusion that the negotiations in Camp David were futile” and “sent someone from the Preventive Security Force to Hamas, to Sheikh Salah Shehade,” said Zahar.
“The man said to Sheikh Shehade: ‘We don’t mind if Hamas carries out operations.’ When we discussed this, some of us said that these people [the PA] wanted only to expose our Unit 103, which was operating under the name of ‘Omar al-Mukhtar,’ so that they could snitch on them.
“These were the people who were involved in the security cooperation with Israel,” he noted.
However, some saw this as an “opportunity” to “carry out joint operations with [Fatah], or accept from them weapons that were known to be at their disposal, so that if they decided to snitch on us, they would be implicated as well,” said the Hamas leader according to MEMRI.
“So we took weapons from them and carried out operations,” said Zahar.
Asked by the show host from where they got the weapons, Zahar responded that they came “from Fatah” in Gaza.
“We took weapons from them and carried out operations, but then [the Israelis] said to Arafat: Listen, this is not what we brought you for. That is when Israel imposed the siege and re-occupied the West Bank, until it got rid of Arafat...” said Zahar, according to the report.